Republic Airways Holdings' deals this week to acquire Denver-based low-cost carrier Frontier for $108.8 million and Milwaukee-based Midwest for $31 million have a lot of people speculating about Republic's ultimate plan--if it has one beyond what it has stated publicly so far.
Will it keep the airlines separate, as it suggest now, or find a way to bring them together under one umbrella? Will Republic ever do any flying under its own name? Will the majors that Republic's three regional subsidiaries providesfixed-fee regional flying for get ticked off that Republic also will own some airlines that compete against them? Is Republic acquiring Frontier just so it can sell it--or pieces of it--to Denver competitor United later on, as stock analyst Helane Becker suggested is a possibility? What's going to happen to AirTran's marketing agreement with Frontier, especiallly since AirTran and Midwest are going to be fierce competitors in Milwaukee? How does Republic expect to make financially troubled Midwest profitable in the face of new and growing competition from AirTran and Southwest?
I'll have more on this next week, but for now you can read what industry participants, analysts, observers and afficianados are saying on the wildly popular airliners.net aviation forum here and here. You can see what pilots are saying, including some from the airlines being acquired, on the Airline Pilot Central forums here and here and here, including some contractual issues you woudn't here about elsewhere. PlaneBuzz raises some questions here and here about the possibility of Republic conflicts with its major airline partners. The Wall Street Journal blog puts aside the speculation and makes it sound so, so much simpler. Of course, that doesn't mean it's wrong